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Different Antibiotics in Cat Eye Infection Treatment

Various factors, such as bacterial or viral infections, serious injuries, or underlying conditions can cause eye infections in cats. In this post, our veterinary ophthalmologists in Clovis share some common treatments for cat eye infections.

What Causes Eye Infections in Cats?

Cats can develop eye infections for two reasons: infectious and non-infectious conditions.

Infectious Conditions that May Cause Eye Infections

  • Some of the most common infectious conditions that can lead to eye infections in cats are Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (also called feline herpesvirus type 1) and Feline Calicivirus. Both of these viruses are highly contagious among cats and are known to cause feline upper respiratory disease, which can lead to symptoms such as eye infections. 

Non-Infectious Conditions that May Cause Eye Infections:

  • Viruses aren't the only cause of eye infections in cats. If your cat's eyes are sore and irritated, it could be due to allergies, a foreign body in the eye, a hereditary eye condition, trauma, tumors, or even an autoimmune disease.

If you suspect that your cat has an eye infection, contact your vet and schedule an examination. Seeking prompt medical attention is crucial, as untreated eye infections can lead to severe complications. This proactive step will help determine the underlying cause of the infection, allowing appropriate treatment to be administered.

What are the symptoms of an eye infection?

Is your cat suffering from an eye infection? You may notice one or more of these symptoms:

  • Rubbing or pawing at one or both eyes
  • Squinting or winking
  • Whites of your cat's eye may turn red 
  • The third eyelid may protrude and cover part of the irritated eye
  • Clear, yellow or green discharge from the eye

If your cat is experiencing eye irritation, it could be due to an upper respiratory infection (URI). Symptoms of URIs in cats, commonly called cat colds, include sneezing and nasal discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, it's important to schedule an appointment with our board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists as soon as possible. Taking prompt action will help prevent the infection from worsening or spreading to other pets in your household or community.

What are the most common treatments for eye infections in cats?

Your veterinarian will assess your cat's general health and determine the best treatment for your cat's eye infection. If the eye infection is the primary health issue, your vet may recommend a topical treatment such as Terramycin® or  Vetropolycin® for your cat's eye. 

That said, if an underlying condition such as Calicivirus or FeLV is causing your cat's eye condition, the underlying issue may be the focus of treatment. The nature of specific diseases and underlying health conditions will determine which treatment your vet recommends, but these may include immune boosters, oral antibiotics or other options. 

Terramycin® Ophthalmic Ointment  - Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride

  • Terramycin ophthalmic ointment is a medication often prescribed for humans with eye infections. This ointment is also a broad-spectrum treatment for cats who suffer from various eye conditions such as conjunctivitis, keratitis, pink eye, corneal ulcers, blepharitis, and bacterial inflammatory conditions that may result from other infectious diseases.

Vetropolycin® Veterinary Ophthalmic Ointment - Bacitracin-Neomycin-Polymyxin

  • Vetropolycin® is a triple antibiotic ointment often prescribed for cats to treat eyelid and conjunctiva bacterial infections. 

Tetracycline Ophthalmic Ointment

  • Your vet may prescribe tetracycline eye ointment if your cat is suffering from Chlamydophila or Mycoplasma conjunctivitis.

Azithromycin Oral Antibiotic

  • Azithromycin may be prescribed for the treatment of Chlamydophila or Mycoplasma conjunctivitis as well as underlying bacterial infections such as respiratory tract infections, and Bartonella which may affect your cat's eyes.

Topical Corticosteroid Ointment or Drops

  • Corticosteroids are often prescribed to help stop eye inflammation. In cats, these drops and ointments are most commonly used to treat conjunctivitis, episcleritis, scleritis, pannus, and eosinophilic keratitis.


  • L-lysine is an amino acid supplement used to treat feline herpes virus infection in cats. Studies are ongoing to determine its effectiveness; however, there is anecdotal evidence that lysine may help suppress the symptoms of the virus. 

Interferon alpha-2b

  • Interferon alfa is an immunomodulator and antiviral used to treat viral diseases in cats, such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or papillomatosis. Studies are ongoing regarding the effectiveness of this treatment, but in some cases, your vet may feel it is worth trying to help your cat fight infections.

Is Neosporin safe for cats?

Many pet owners have wondered, "Can Neosporin be used on cats?". Like many human medications, this topical antibiotic ointment works very well on humans for skin abrasions, including burns, cuts, and scrapes, but is not recommended for cats. 

Several human medications are toxic or otherwise dangerous for pets. This is especially true for cats, as their compact size means that even the tiniest amounts of a dangerous substance could put your cat's life at risk.

There have been reports of cats having life-threatening anaphylactic reactions to the antibiotic ingredients in Neosporin's ophthalmic preparations, which include neomycin and polymyxin B.

Is triple antibiotic ointment safe for cats?

Triple antibiotic ointment is another term for a product such as Neosporin. Triple antibiotic ointments still have some of the same active ingredients known to cause death in cats. Therefore, they are not safe to put on your cat's eyes. While they may be a generic brand or sold under a different brand name, they are still the same thing. 

Contact your vet for appropriate treatments for your cat's eye infection.

How quickly will treatment work?

After starting the treatment for eye infections in cats, the symptoms usually clear up very quickly. However, it is crucial to follow your veterinarian's instructions and continue the treatment until the end of the prescription period, even if your cat's symptoms have disappeared.

Stopping the antibiotic medication early could lead to the infection coming back and make it harder to treat. If there is an underlying condition causing your cat's symptoms, the speed and effectiveness of the treatment will depend on the condition and your cat's overall health. Your veterinarian will provide you with a prognosis for your cat's recovery.

Veterinary Eye Care at Family Pet Hospital

Our veterinary clinic features board-certified ophthalmologists who work closely with your pet's primary care veterinarian to deliver the most comprehensive eye care for your furry friend. Our vets in Clovis specialize in ophthalmology and can provide expert diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of eye conditions and infections.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing severe signs of an eye infection or other serious ophthalmological issues? Contact our vets at Family Pet Hospital  today for an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

New Patients Welcome

Family Pet Hospital is always accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health and well-being of Clovis dogs and cats. Contact us today to get started! 

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